For years, I have been terrified to build a computer, and skittish at best at upgrading one. Despite my knowledge of software and operating systems, I really knew very little about hardware, and even more about the new technology that was coming out. I grew up with old computers, 486, Pentium, Pentium II, etc. The idea of a “two core” processor was foreign to me. My last computer, the one I bought aaalll the way back in 2004, had a single core processor, and back then no one called them “single core” processors, it was just Intel or AMD. Back in that time, I purchased a 256MB thumbdrive for $45. Now that just seems ridiculous. But it also seems ridiculous when I think about my first time dealing with computers, playing Space Invaders on a sepia-toned monochromatic 386 computer with two 5.25 floppy drives and Windows 3.1.
As of 2009, I have owned a dual core processor machine, with 4GB of ram and a 500GB hard drive. It is called Magrageeves (I give my computers weird names) and at the time it was a godsend. My old single-core computer, Albatross, was getting very, very old, and had experienced a bad static electricty problem oh, nearly six years ago now, and thus would freeze up randomly, forcing me to restart frequently. The only reason I stayed with that computer is because I was too poor to buy a new one. It was college, what can you do. So the purchase of a brand new system was exciting to me, but also kind of nervewracking. I had to buy something relatively cheap, but something that could do what I wanted, namely play video games. So I opted for a dual core, because quad cores at that time were super expensive. Five hundred gigabytes, I thought, would last me forever. How do you fill up 500GB of space? The cost of Magrageeves was $470.
Later on I purchased a “bare-bones” computer kit for $200. An AMD Phenom quad core processor, 2GB of ram that I upgraded to 4GB, a 500GB hard drive, power supply, a shitty case, etc etc. I was supposed to put it together myself. I was nervous. See, Albatross had been sitting in the garage for months now, collecting dust, and at one point I decided to turn it on. I turned it on and experienced a series of beeps and no Windows loading. After some investigating, I quickly discovered that Albatross was Dead, a lifeless hunk of scrap metal. So I did something that I would do frequently with toys as a child: I took it apart. God damn it felt good. I hadn’t taken apart anything for a long time, because at some point it became apparent to my developing brain that while I was good at taking things apart and investigating them, I was horrible at putting them back together. I distinctly remember the piles of parts of Transformer toys I disassembled and then kind of half-heartedly reassembled, and how they looked nothing like they used to. I then said, Well, let’s stop doing this.
So I took apart Albatross and looked at what made it tick. Of course, what was in that box and what is in my newer computers is a little different. Better technology, more upgraded thingymajigs. I don’t know the name of everything, but I know generally what goes where, how to plug in things, etc. And I used that information along with basic instructions to build the bare-bones computer. It was painless! The only issue is that the hard drive light doesn’t light up, despite plugging the right connecting pin (or whatever that’s called). But I did it. I constructed something. It made me feel good. It was as close to working on a car as I’ll ever get.
Now my plan is to upgrade! I was going to upgrade my dual-core to a quad-core behemoth, but thankfully through some research I found that the motherboard on that computer can’t handle more than 4GB of ram. So the next idea is to upgrade the quad core and make it the main computer in my house (the other being a guest computer/recording computer). I can add a 1TB hard drive, a shiny new ATI Radeon graphics card, and two sticks of 4GB ram (this mobo can go up to 8GB) for under $200, though I’ll probably have to chip in and get a new computer fan, too.
Oh, and randomly, I discovered that Albatross’s 80GB hard drive still works, and so I put it in the quad-core machine. Honestly, I’ve never had a hard drive fail on me, ever. People must be pushing those things like mad to get them to burn out on them.
I know this goes against the general patois of this blog, but I’ve become quite proud of my ability to deal with computers like this, and I can’t wait to buy the parts to upgrade my quad core. There’s something about getting your hands dirty and putting stuff together yourself that makes you more invested in those things. For some it’s gardens, for others it’s cars, and for me it’s computers. So there! Deal with it! *sunglasses fall onto my face*